Thursday, April 5, 2007

Switch it up. Resistance Training Systems

Following an organized, integrated training program and manipulating variables is key to achieving optimum performance. There are many training systems that can be utilized to structure a resistance training program for different results.

Single Set System
This is one of the oldest training methods out there. The single set system is the execution of one set of each exercise. Each set usually consists of 8-12 reps at a controlled tempo. This is most often used for individuals who workout twice a week. Although multiple set training is perceived as being more beneficial for strength and size gains in advanced exercise enthusiasts, the single set system has been shown to be as beneficial for a beginner.

Multiple Set System
This training method has been popular since the 1940's. The multiple set system consists of performing a multiple number of sets for each exercise. This form of training can be appropriate for both novice and advanced athletes, but has been shown to be superior to the single set system for the advanced exerciser.

The Pyramid System
This system involves a progressive or regressive step approach that either increases or decreases weight with each set. In the light to heavy system, an individual performs 10-12 reps with a light load and increases the resistance for each following set, until the individual can perform one to two reps, usually in four to six sets. This system can be used for workouts that involve only two to four sets or higher rep schemes, like 12-20 reps. The heavy to light system works in the opposite direction. The individual starts with a heavy load and for one to two reps then decreases the amount of weight and increases the reps for four to six sets.

The Superset System
This type of training utilizes a couple of exercises performed in rapid succession of one another. It can be combined with compound set and tri-set systems. Compound sets involve the performance of two exercises for antagonistic (opposite) muscles (chest/back combos). Working opposite muscle groups allows for better recovery and is more time efficient. Tri-set systems use three (or two) exercises for the same muscle group or body part (chest press, cable press, push-up). Typically, supersetting involves sets of 8-12 reps with no rest between sets or exercises. This is beneficial for muscle gain and muscular endurance.

The Circuit Training System
This is a system consisting of a series of exercises that an individual performs one after the other, with minimal rest. Circuit training is a great training system for those with limited time or those who need to increase their Target Heart Rate to burn more calories.

The Peripheral Heart Action System
This is a variation of circuit training that alternates upper body and lower body exercises throughout the circuit. This system is very beneficial for incorporating an integrated, multidimensional program to alter body composition.

The Split Routine System
A split routine involves breaking up muscle groups to be trained on separate days. Many body builders and sports athletes use the split routine system. It helps to bring about muscle size (hypertrophy) and more work can be performed for the allotted time per workout.


By creating variety in your routine, not only will you fight boredom, but you will also fight adaptation and plateau. The are so many ways to switch it up. Be creative, but stick to the techniques that compliment your fitness goal. Variety is the spice of life and also the key to efficient results.

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